This week's ASA ruling against online clothing brand Prettylittlething is a useful reminder that it’s all very well having a set of T&Cs for your sales promotion, but they are of pretty little value if no one ever sees them.

Prettylittlething advertised two prize promotions, mainly on Twitter and Instagram, offering the chance to win free clothes and vouchers in return for follows and comments.

Various terms and conditions applied, including age restrictions and closing dates. Unfortunately, the significant terms were not flagged in the creative and there were no references or links to the full T&Cs (at least at the time the complainants first saw the ads). The ASA also didn’t like the fact that entrants had to do quite a lot of digital legwork to find out how to actually enter the promotions.

The promoter clearly hadn’t done enough and the decision is a common sense one. But it also helps illustrate the challenges faced by brands promoting prize draws and competitions in social media, where space is at a premium and the technology lends itself better to glossy high-end video than legal speak.

Nevertheless, whilst the CAP Code makes some allowances for a lack of screen real estate, the ASA sets a high bar and takes a very dim view of promoters who claim that there just wasn’t space.

All sales promotions need a short, clear set of terms and conditions, which should be linked to the relevant marketing communication. However, the CAP Code goes further by requiring that all significant conditions be stated in the marketing communication itself if their omission would be likely to mislead. The question to ask is this: if we don’t tell the consumer this information now, could this cause them disappointment later? If the answer is yes, then the information should probably be included.

Closing dates, age restrictions, location restrictions, limits on the number of entries, the nature (and number) of the prizes, entry requirements, the identity of the promoter (it’s usually obvious, but not always)… all of these are key factors influencing a consumer’s decision as to whether to enter. 

Much of the information can be deployed in the marketing message itself. Anything else can be dealt with in a couple of strategically placed lines that get the job done, but don’t spoil the fun.